Meal prepping has been a staple in my life since my sophomore year of college. It has been a game-changer for my relationship with food, healing from SIBO, and more. However, there have been loads of mistakes I have made. I am going to share with you all of my meal prepping mistakes I’ve made so you can avoid them.
The purpose of meal prepping is different for everyone. However, the premise is still the same. In which your goal is to make delicious food to have throughout the week. I started making sandwiches the night before classes so I wouldn’t have to rush to get food. Now I meal prep for half the week and meal prep again for the second half (more on this later).
Meal Prepping Mistakes to Avoid
Not Buying Enough Food
This happened to me way too often. This is when having emergency food in the freezer can be a lifesaver. Each week I am to get enough meat to last all week and I will buy additional vegetables later on.
However, if you find that you keep running out, you may be more opt to order out. Which is 100%, okay, but if you are on a protocol or budgeting the bill can easily add up. This will be trial and error especially if you are trying to regulate your hunger signals or cooking for more than one person.
I aim to buy more than what I need so I can then freeze it or increase my portion sizes.
Not Cooking Your Food Soon Enough
I literally cannot tell you how many times my boyfriend has had to throw out meat. He will wait too long and then meat goes bad. The same goes for certain types of vegetables. I have found that vegetables like tubers last for a while.
The same can be said for certain fruits too like bananas, apples (in the fridge), and avocadoes. If you get soft-skinned fruits or non-starchy vegetables aim to cook those within 1-2 days. 3 days is really pushing it, but I generally stick to 1-2 days.
As for meats, I recommend cooking again within 3-days tops. I personally get my groceries Friday or Saturday and I will cook the next day. Especially with meat, you don’t want to be throwing that out. That is money you’re throwing out.
Not Utilizing Your Freezer
This was my biggest mistake! For a while, I was just roasting a whole bunch of vegetables and cooking two types of proteins. It was usually roasted chicken thighs and crispy ground beef. However, that got boring very fast.
You can make big batches of recipes that you can store in your freezer and eat later on. Meals usually last for a couple of months in the freezer. I always store my meals in Pyrex containers or these glass ones are good too. Some great meals to make in bulk are:
For storing soups, I store them in individual mason jars to easily thaw when I want some. They taste just as delicious when you first made it. You can reheat it in the oven once thawed.
Buying Too Much When Trying Something New
Having variety in your diet is important. However, do not buy too much of a vegetable, fruit, meat, or fish that you’ve never had. I personally love trying new things at restaurants or trying my boyfriend/friend’s plate if they get something different.
That way you are only spending on one meal not a week’s worth of meals. Especially if you can’t eat it once, you won’t want to eat it for the rest of the week. I always get a small portion and if I like it I will buy more.
I have literally bought 2 Brussel sprouts because I was reintroducing and wasn’t sure if I’d like them. Turns out I am obsessed, but if I wasn’t a fan I wouldn’t stress about the money I spent. You can always go to the grocery to get more.
Not Making a Grocery List
This has always gotten me in trouble. There 3 important reasons to make a list:
- Ensure you only get items you need.
- You can ensure you have all the ingredients for a recipe.
- You’ll be able to stay within your budget.
It doesn’t take long at all to make a list. Find out when your grocery store releases its new weekly ad. And that can be the day you make your list. I personally make my list in the Whole Foods app. Once you know what’s on sale you can easily craft a menu based on those ingredients.
It is a great way to incorporate more seasonal foods and try new foods as well. Another key point is when trying new recipes, add what you need for the recipe. This will eliminate buying too much or forgetting an ingredient altogether.
Not Diversifying Your Diet
When it comes to your nutrition it is important to rotate your menu. By constantly consuming the same foods it can lead to a potential sensitivity. Your body can build up a tolerance to them in which the body has an immune response. In which the sensitive will go away once you stop eating them for a period of time.
Even on a protocol like Low Fodmap or Autoimmune Protocol, there are ways to alternate foods. This will help to diversify your microbiome. Plus it can get very boring to eat the same things over and over again.
Baking and Storing Food in Metal Dishes
This is especially important for baked goods! I made this delicious gingerbread loaf and I left it too long in a metal pan. It got moldy and mushy so fast it was disgusting. If you do bake in a metal pan, I recommend using parchment paper so you can pull out the baked good to cool.
I personally prefer glass for baking, in which Pyrex has all different types of baking dishes. What is even better is once you’ve baked something you can easily store it in the container too. I am all about saving dishes!
Heating up Food in Plastic Containers
As for plastic containers, that is a lot of concern with them. The reason is the chemicals in plastic containers can mimic sex hormones especially estrogen. Some chemicals to be aware of in plastics are Phthalates and BPA.
The big concern with Phlatates and BPA is its effects on reproductive health, thyroid function, metabolism, fat storage/usage, and more. These chemicals can also be found in other things as well. BPA is often in canned products, whereas Phlatates are often in personal care products.
Plastic containers become an issue when using it in the microwave. The heat causes the chemicals to come out of the plastic and into your food. For example, if you have clear plastic containers and they’re suddenly cloudy. That’s a sign the chemicals are leeching out of the plastic.
The best advice is to switch to glass containers and recycle your containers. However, if you aren’t ready to take the step only to use your plastics for storing. Don’t heat them up and once they’re damaged or cloudy, recycle them. Source: Here
Not Investing in a Meat Thermometer
This is especially important for those who are beginners in cooking! It will help you to find the sweet spot in cooking meats. I cannot tell you how many times I have overcooked meats…
No one wants dry chicken breast or chewy strip streak. The meat thermometer I use is super easy to use and very small. I personally like using it for fish, chicken, and cuts I have never cooked before. It will prevent you from wasting food and ensure it is delicious!
I hope by sharing my mistakes that you will not make them yourself! If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out my recipe page! Thank youu so much for reading!